Trump calls himself an 'ally to all peaceful protesters' as police fire tear gas and clash with crowds in DC

rperper@businessinsider.com (Rosie Perper,Eliza Relman)
Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump called himself an "ally to all peaceful protesters" during a briefing at the White House on Monday while police dressed in riot gear pushed peaceful protesters out of a park nearby with tear gas and rubber bullets. 
  • Protesters gathered in front of the White House ahead of Trump's briefing, maintaining a distance from police behind a barrier.
  • But soon, police began to move protesters away from the White House area using tear gas and rubber bullets. 
  • Here's how the protests played out in Washington, DC, as Trump condemned the violent actions sparked from these demonstrations. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump called himself an "ally to all peaceful protesters" during a speech at the White House on Monday evening while police dressed in riot gear simultaneously clashed with peaceful protesters nearby. 

At around 6:30 p.m. local time, DC National Guard troops and other law enforcement pushed peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square using tear gas, rubber bullets, shields, and horses. Trump spoke at 6:44 p.m. local time.

Trump addressed the unrest playing out across the US in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in the custody of Minneapolis police last week. The video of Floyd's death in police custody was widely shared across social media and has since sparked a week of escalating protests across several US states. 

During his White House address, Trump expressed support for "peaceful" protesters while decrying the violent actions that have branched off from some protests. 

"I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others," Trump said at his briefing. 

"We cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you," he added. 

But nearby, authorities were already clashing with peaceful protesters that had gathered near the White House to demonstrate ahead of the president's remarks. 

 

Protesters were gathered behind barriers set up in Lafayette Square.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Protests were peaceful as police and protesters maintained a safe distance from one another. 

Protesters held signs and chanted slogans as heavily armed military police inched closer.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Police began to inch closer to the barrier separating them from the demonstrators, leading to a series of heated verbal disputes. 

National Guard troops and Park rangers suddenly began pushing protesters away from the area in the minutes before Trump addressed the nation.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Police began using flash bangs and tear gas to clear protesters from Lafayette Square.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

As President Trump began speaking, protesters spilled out onto the streets of Washington, DC.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Yamiche Alcindor, a White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, tweeted from the protests that she was teargassed along with protesters near the White House.

 

Footage from the protests showed police pushing protesters further away from the park and onto the streets.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Police on horseback followed closely behind.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Aerial footage showed what the area looked like before police moved up the barricade from Lafayette Square.

 

Under 10 minutes later, the area appeared to have been almost entirely cleared out.

 

And as police clashed with protesters, the footage also showed police attacking a cameraman who was filming the events as they unfolded live.

 

 

Most protesters appeared to comply with police requests, continuing to march with their hands raised and moving further away as necessary.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

At one point, protesters knelt before the wall of police with their hands raised.

Protesters in Washington, DC, clash with police as President Donald Trump spoke at the White House on June 1, 2020.

Screenshot/Reuters

Reports then emerged that the White House had ordered the violent clearing of protesters so that Trump could walk from the White House to St. John's church for a photo shoot.

President Donald Trump departs the White House to visit outside St. John's Church, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington.

Patrick Semansky/AP Images

Shortly after protesters were cleared out, Trump posed with a bible for a photo at St. John's Church, located close to Lafayette Square.

President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The church basement was set on fire the night before. 

You can watch Trump's full briefing here.

During the briefing, Trump threatened to deploy the "heavily armed" military in order to squash protests.

Trump on Monday laid the blame on governors for unrest spreading across the country, telling the state leaders that "most of you are weak," according to audio of a call with the governors and law-enforcement officials obtained by Business Insider.

Trump told governors on the call that they "have to dominate" protesters on the streets and "put them in jail for 10 years."

"If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you," Trump said, according to audio recordings of the call that was obtained by several news outlets. "You are going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate."

The protests in DC follow an evening of clashes between police and protesters, during which police launched tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds, while some protesters set fire to buildings and vandalized state monuments like the Lincoln Memorial.

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